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Tony Grist

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Family Funeral [Sep. 27th, 2006|10:54 am]
Tony Grist
We've got a family funeral coming up next Tuesday. Ailz's uncle. Nobody on her side of the family liked him much. I met him a couple of times in passing. I gather he had a bad-ass drink problem.

I hate funerals. They're nasty. The religious pablum no-one really believes.The professionals doing their professional grief act. Bad theatre, bad music, bad faith. 

I'll be going to support Ailz, who'll be going to support her father, who'll be the only one of us who actually wants to be there. 

It's his brother. His younger brother. Younger by over ten years.

Ailz's father does a lot of funerals. It's one of the penalties of running an old folks club. At one time not so long ago he seemed to be doing a couple of funerals a week. 

I wonder what that feels like: to be in your seventies and attending funerals all the time?  I wonder how he defends himself?

[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2006-09-27 10:49 am (UTC)
Losing a younger sibling is difficult, even if the gap was ten years or more and you weren't especially close. Been there done that didn't like it.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-09-27 09:13 pm (UTC)
I can imagine. Well, no, that's glib; I don't suppose I can.
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[User Picture]From: cybersofa
2006-09-27 01:20 pm (UTC)
Bad theatre, bad music, bad faith.

Spot on target, but all fixable. The catch is that the fix must be applied by the deceased.

The key element of the drama (barring any ritual requirements such as riverborne pyrolysis) is the eulogy. Usually disappointing because the celebrant knew the deceased less well than did the bereaved, who instantly spot the fakery. Solution: sign somebody good, and brief them properly.

Also specify the venue. The default crematorium is an inhumane production-line environment. If the deceased's a churchgoer, well and good, otherwise surely anywhere that does weddings can also do funerals?

Any other optional elements also need to be specified. Motorcycle hearse? Woodland burial? No-one else will do this, and the more it's done, the less need for the nasty defaults.

Music should be the easy part. There's nearly as much good music in the world as bad music, and making a list shouldn't be difficult (although reducing it to a practical length can be).

Bad faith is once again the default option which you'll get if you don't spec anything else. Anyone who's a member of a faith-based community can do better. Atheist and humanist funerals are well established and there's lots of info about them. I know nothing about Wicca et al, but clearly it is a market, and so somebody must be serving it – if not why not?

All this planning is a bit of a chore and perhaps depressing (and in some cases, regrettably impossible). But life's going to be hard enough for those left behind, without making them sit through an unhappy and uncomfortable funeral as well. It's the last good deed we can do our loved ones.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-09-27 09:15 pm (UTC)
Ailz says she doesn't want a funeral. I've told her, tough, if I'm still around, she's having one. These things aren't for the benefit of the deceased.

I've been to a handful of good, well-thought-out, individualised funerals. The "best" was that of a girl in her 20s who knew she was going to die young and had laid elaborate plans.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-09-27 09:18 pm (UTC)
I think the secret, if it can be managed, is to make friends in the younger generation. My in-laws (like many people) only socialise within their own age group.
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[User Picture]From: methodius
2006-09-27 04:59 pm (UTC)
There are funerals and funerals.

The ones in undertakers' chapels are uniformly horrible.

But do-it-yourself ones are usually OK. I've put in my will that I don't want plastic grass or any other kitsch sepulchral haberdashery at mine.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-09-27 09:25 pm (UTC)
This one won't be do-it-yourself. At least, I very much doubt it.

I haven't made any funeral plans for myself. Perhaps i should.
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[User Picture]From: intotheraw
2006-09-27 07:21 pm (UTC)
Bad theatre, bad music, bad faith.

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